Russian Officials Who Plotted To Overthrow Putin Summoned by Police

Russian officials who appealed to the country's State Duma to remove President Vladimir Putin from power on the charge of high treason say they have been summoned by police for "discrediting" the Russian government.

Nikita Yurefev, a municipal deputy for Smolninskoe in St. Petersburg, and Dmitry Palyuga, another municipal deputy for the area, both shared screenshots of text messages from the city's police department No. 76.

The pair were ordered to make an appearance at a police station located on Mytninskaya Street in St. Petersburg at 9 a.m. local time on Friday, according to the messages.

They were informed that the purpose of the summons was to draw up a protocol on an administrative offense under a stringent new law that cracks down on dissent over the war against Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a press conference in Moscow, on February 7, 2022. Russian officials on Wednesday appealed to the country's State Duma to remove Putin from power on the charge of high treason. THIBAULT CAMUS/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

Yurefev and Palyuga were accused of committing actions aimed at discrediting the Russian government, police said.

It comes after Yurefev published a tweet on Wednesday, writing that the Council of the Smolninskoye Municipal District "sent a proposal to the State Duma demanding to remove Putin from office based on the charges of high treason," Newsweek previously reported.

The treason charge appears to be directly related to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which is described as a "special military operation" by Putin.

"His decision to start the Special Military Operation led to 1) deaths of Russian servicemen, 2) problems in the Russian economy, 3) the expansion of NATO (the border with NATO has doubled!," Yurefev's tweet read.

"Ukraine is militarizing and has received $38 billion worth of weapons to fight Russia. All these are the consequences of the decision to start the Special Military Operation. Putin's actions pose a threat to Russia's security. He should be fired! Adopted at a meeting of the Municipal Council of Smolninskoye," a separate tweet states.

Yurefev said that the draft decision proposed to the State Duma was introduced by Palyuga and signed by six other deputies. The pair said the proposal was supported by a majority of deputies present.

Palyuga told Russian-language independent news outlet MediaZona that all seven deputies of Smolninskoye municipality were summoned.

The appeal says that in the course of the war, "young able-bodied" Russian citizens are dying and that the Russian economy is suffering.

Shortly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, deputies of the Smolninskoye municipality called on Putin to "stop the bloodshed, immediately withdraw Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine and resign."

Since the war began, Russia has charged multiple officials and even its own soldiers with "discrediting" the country's armed forces and government.

Russia's parliament passed legislation in March imposing jail terms of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading "fake" news about the country's armed forces. The Kremlin has used the law to crack down on those who veer away from Putin's narrative of the war.

Russia introduced Article 207.3 which states that "public dissemination of deliberately false information about the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation" is punishable by fines and jail terms of up to three, five, 10 or 15 years.

Article 280.3 was also introduced, which states that "public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation" are punishable by fines and jail terms of either three years, or five years, depending on how damaging the offense committed is considered to be.

Newsweek has contacted Russia's foreign ministry for comment.